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Issue 109 - The Path to Enlightenment

Whisky Magazine Issue 109
February 2013


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The Path to Enlightenment

Neil Ridley charts the rise in popularity of the dedicated cigar lounge and gets the low down on the best liquid pairings from those in the know

To anyone partial to the distinctive waft of aromatic smoke, which only handmade Cuban cigars can produce, the 1st July 2007 must have seemed like a very bleak day indeed. As the smoking ban bit, the UK's hospitality industry began to back away from handmade cigars and it was not an uncommon sight to see well-dressed diners shivering outside with a fine Corona, trying in vain to enjoy what was fast becoming an obsolete post-prandial pastime. But thanks to the ingenuity and foresight of a few establishments, a new home has emerged for the beleaguered cigar smoker and today the cosy, purpose built lounge and heated terrace are the perfect place to spark up a vintage stick.

“The first thing to remember,” points out Simon Chase, one of the UK's leading experts on Cuban cigars, “is the time it takes to smoke a quality handmade cigar. Even the smallest takes about 20 minutes, whereas larger sizes can take around three hours to properly do them justice. Designated cigar areas were almost born out of the draconian nature of the legislation, which tarred all tobacco products in the same way.”

Boisdale in Belgravia was home to one of London's very first dedicated cigar terraces and has built up a formidable reputation among cigar connoisseurs, by organising monthly cigar tasting events and pairing vintage and rare examples with a wide range of spirits, wines and cuisine. Today, it's no surprise to see the very latest addition to the Boisdale empire, a vast complex in Canary W...

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